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Croatia: Homeland War (1991-1995)

Last modified: 2012-12-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: army | homeland war | grubisno polje | split | ploce | krapina |
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Unit flag's streamers

The Croatian military weekly magazine Hrvatski vojnik, No. 249-250, July 2009 (article), shows the streamers (photo) used on the national flags granted to the 10th and 11th brigades of the Croatian National Guard, paraded on 28 May 1991 at the FK Zagreb Stadium, Kranjčevićeva Street Zagreb, this being considered as the beginning of the modern Croatian defence forces.
I have serious doubts that these two streamers, preserved in the Military Museums, were ever actually used. I believe that they have been prepared to be granted at the parade as for the first nine brigades, but they were not granted at the event, and so were preserved somewhere and finally ended up in the Military Museum.

Željko Heimer, 11 August 2009

77th Independent Battalion of the Croatian National Guard - Grubišno Polje (1991)

The Croatian military weekly magazine Hrvatski vojnik, No. 281, February 2010 (article) says:

77th Independent Battalion of the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) - Grubišno Polje.
The Crisis Staff of Grubišno Polje decided on 14 August 1991 on the formation of an independent Battalion, and thus on 26 September 1991 the 57th Independent Battalion of ZNG was formed. The battalion was active in actions on Bilogora, Operation "Otkos 10" on 31 October 1991 in its southern and south-western directions. It was engaged there until 4 November 1991. On 5 December 1991 it was engaged in Operation "Ledina" on the Papuk mountains advancing towards Daruvar. In the village of Bastajski Brdani it destroyed a "White Eagles" paramilitary unit, and, on 25 December 1991, together with other units, it took the line Pakrac-Bucje-Požega. On the same day, it was renamed 77th Independent Battalion and under that name it was active until the arrival of UNPROFOR, when it was disbanded.

The Battalion flag (photo) is in fact an "upgraded" flag of the Republic of Croatia, with yellow inscriptions printed on it. In the red stripe next to the hoist is inscribed "77. SAMOSTALNI", and in the fly "BILOGORA" "91", and in the blue stripe at hoist "BATALJUN", and in fly on two rows "GRUBIŠNO / POLJE". The inscription in the fly is somewhat damaged due to the wear of material. The flag is ca. 100 x 200 cm in size. Along the fly is a yellow fringe, ca. 2 cm in length. The flag sleeve is made of folded tricolour material of the flag field.
The flag was manufactured in 1991, probably using the previously produced national flag, consisting of three sewn stripes with printed state arms application over them on both sides.
This is an example of rarely preserved flags from the very beginning of the Homeland War, when they were being produced with ad hoc materials, usually simply by adding inscriptions and symbols to the state flag. Since the conditions did not allow for putting the unit symbols on the flag, here we have only the inscriptions. So far, only three flags from the Homeland War of this type are recorded, although it is highly probable there are more. The others may have been preserved as valuable memorabilia by the soldiers who made them or fought under them in the first days of the war. Such flags were soon replaced with differently designed flags, wuth the idea that such defacement of the national flag was not allowed by legislation.

Željko Heimer, 17 March 2010

6th Home Defense Regiment (1992-2000)

The Croatian military weekly magazine Hrvatski vojnik, No. 279, February 2010 (article) says:

6th Home Defense Regiment (6. domobranska pukovnija).
The unit was established by Presidential Decision on 26th May 1992 as the 6th Home Defense Regiment "R" - Split. It was restructured under the same name on 27th July 1994, and was formally active until 18 January 2000.

The flag of the Regiment (photo) is a black flag with a red square in each corner bordered white on the inner sides and a yellow border all around the black field. In the middle is a black oval unit patch on which is printed a golden bordered oval sign, along the inner edge above inscribed "DOMOBRANSKA PUKOVNIJA", and below "SPLIT", the inscriptions on both sides separated by golden wattle pattern. In the centre is set the white coat of arms of the town of Split [...]. Above the town arms is the golden number "6." and below are the initials of the Croatian Army, "HV". The size of the flag is ca. 80 x 160 cm. The flag sleeve is made of black cloth, the flag has no decorative fringe. Made in 1992 or 1993.

The main part of the emblem is the coat of arms of the town of Split, which basically comes from the 14th century, and has been used in this design since 1991.
The central insignia is in the form of the patch that was made in Split in 1993 (Tudman, Hrvatsko ratno znakovlje, 3: 117-118), and a table flag of equal basic design was being produced (Tudman, Hrvatske ratne i vojne zastavice, 403). A new flag, which is a rather faithful replica of the wartime flag, except for dimensions that were now standardized to 1 x 2 m, was produced in 2006 at the occasion of 15th Anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces, in two copies, which are kept in the Military Museum in the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, and are used for military ceremonies instead of this irreplaceable original war flag, which is kept in the Military Museum.

Željko Heimer, 22 February 2010

16th Artillery Battalion - Ploče (1993-1999)

The Croatian military weekly magazine Hrvatski vojnik, No. 280, February 2010 (article) says:

The unit, based in Ploče, was established by Presidential Decision on 4 August 1993 and was formally active until 18 March 1999.

The Battalion flag (photo) is dark-purple with a yellow plastic emblem applied by thermo-printing in the shape of a semicircular shield with convex top edge. In the chief is a tricolor arch, under it the black initials "HV", for "Croatian Army", and below it in the right two red squares in diagonal and one white. From the latter, along the edge of the sign to the opposite side is a white bordered gold wattle pattern. In the centre of it is a black gun, its battle runs diagonally the left of the header and partially covers it, and the back part of the cannon protrudes behind the wattle. Above the emblem, along the upper edge of the flag is sewn the golden inscription "16. TOPNICKI DIVIZION". The flag is ca. 150 x 300 cm in size. The flag sleeve is made of the same material as the flag field. Along the three outer edges is golden fringe of 3 cm. The flag was probably made in 1994. The emblem was made by E. Petrić, Zagreb (Tudman, Hrvatsko ratno znakovlje, 2: 224).

This unusually large flag (the usual size of unit flag in the Croatian Armed Forces is about 1 x 2 m) is representative of one of the typical flag designs of unit colors, monocolored with the unit emblem and the inscription. Such a design occurs in somewhat less than one third of the flags from the Homeland War. Somewhat more than one third are monocolored flags with the unit emblem and no additional inscription, while all other types are represented by only the remaining third of the flags. The purple flag field is very unusual and occurs in less than 10 of almost 200 flags from the Homeland War period.

Željko Heimer, 22 February 2010

21st Home Defence Regiment - Krapina (1994-1999)

The Croatian military weekly magazine Hrvatski vojnik, No. 283, March 2010 (article) says:

21st Home Defence Regiment - Krapina.
The Regiment was established by Presidential Decree on 27 July 1994, and probably formed/mobilized on 1 September 1994, as the date on the flag indicates it, from the previous Independant Home Defense Company and other smaller units. It was disbanded on 17 September 1999, when it was inherited by the 641st Reserve Infantry Brigade - Krapina.

The unit flag (photo) is blue, bordered with a double row of interlaced red and white squares. In the middle top is a golden bordered black disk including within a golden bordered triple wattle ornament a black shield. The shield depicts a gray figure of the Monument to the Croatian Anthem, between golden numbers "2" and "1." and in the chief the golden motto "MI SMO TU NAVEK" ("We are always here", in the local dialect), and in the base "ZAGORSKA" ("of the Zagorje region"). Under the shield is a white ribbon bordered red on it stop and blue on the bottom inscribed in golden "domobranska pukovnija" (Home Defence Regiment). Under the disk is a tricolor ribbon with the coat of arms of Croatia in each end and the date in the middle, "1. 9. 1994". The flag size is ca. 100 x 200 cm. It does not have a flag sleeve, but six white ribbons along the hoist edge.

The central element of the symbol is the Monument to the Croatian Anthem Lijepa naša, written by Antun Mihanović in a place called Zelenjak on the road connecting Klanjec and Kumrovec. The monument was erected by the Brotherhood of Croatian Dragon Association on 24 November 1935 on the occasion of the centenary of the anthem. This monument became not only a kind of a national symbol, but also a recognizable symbol of the Zagorje region.

The flag is unique in using a counter-compony border. The omitting of the fringe and the unusual hoisting method suggests that this item was used for hoisting on a mast rather then on a staff.
The flag was probably manufactured in 1994. The unit patch of the same circular design was produced in 1996.

Željko Heimer, 17 March 2010

Symbolic war flags (2006)

The article (text, no longer online) "We publish the coat of arms of the victorious units of the Croatian Army from the Storm operation" was published in the national newspaper Vecernji list on 5 August 2009, the day celebrating the victory of 1995, liberating larger parts of rebel-held Croatia in the operation named "Storm".

The published drawings (archive) are not "coats of arms", but, for the most part, flags. However, those "symbolical war flags" are designs "invented" and produced in 2006 only, and not in 1995 and before. I am pretty much confident that the source of these flag images are drawing of the flags prepared for the production of these flags by the flagmaker company VIS Varaždin; probably these drawings come from the Military Museum or were obtained directly from the flagmakers.
The 2006 "symbolical war flags" are not replicas of the original flags used during the war, but "recreations".

Željko Heimer, 6 August 2009

Articles in Hrvatski vojnik (2012)

Starting in No. 394 of 27 April 2012, the Croatian fortnightly military magazine Hrvatski vojnik (website) issued a column on vexillology prepared by yours truly. The column provides some basic insights into vexillollogy and military vexillology as well as presentation of one of the Croatian Armed Forces flags from the Homeland War of the 1990s.
Nr. 394 of 27 April 2012 includes a story on a flag of the 3rd Guard Brigade (article).

Željko Heimer, 17 May 2012